Air Pollution

The presence of contaminants or pollutant substances in the air that interfere with human health or welfare, or produce other harmful environmental effects.

Alternative Energy

Energy derived from non-fossil fuels, and is usually environmentally sound, such as solar or wind energy.

Alternative Fuels

Substitutes for traditional liquid, oil-derived motor vehicle fuels like gasoline and diesel. Includes mixtures of alcohol-based fuels with gasoline, methanol, ethanol, compressed natural gas, 'biodiesel' and others.

Best Management Practice

Methods that have been determined to be the most effective, practical means of preventing or reducing pollution and land degradation.

Biodiversity (Biological Diversity)

The number and abundance of species found within a common environment.  This includes the variety of genes, species, ecosystems, and the ecological processes that connect everything in a common environment.

Biological Control

The use of natural means, including animals and organisms that eat or otherwise kill or out-compete pests.

Carrying Capacity

The maximum number of animals an area can support during a given period in a sustainable way.


A region or area over which water flows into a particular lake, reservoir, stream, or river.

Chemical Control

The use of pesticides and herbicides to control pests and undesirable plant species.

Climate Change

A regional change in temperate and weather patterns.  Current science indicates a discernible link between climate change over the last century and human activity, specifically the burning of fossil fuels.


Cultural Resource

The remains of sites, structures, or objects used by people in the past; this can be historical or pre-historic.

Ecological Impact (Disturbance)

The effect that a man-caused or natural activity has on living organisms and their non-living environment.


The relationship of living things to one another and their environment, or the study of such relationships.


A naturally occurring number of living and non-living components which interact with each other to form a stable system.


Wastewater (treated or untreated) that flows out of a treatment system (eg septic tank), sewer, or industrial outfall. Generally refers to wastes discharged into surface waters.


Pollution discharged into the atmosphere from smokestacks, other vents, and surface areas of commercial or industrial facilities; from residential chimneys; and from motor vehicle, trains, or aircraft exhausts.

Energy Efficiency

Technologies and measures that reduce the amount of electricity and/or fuel required to do the same work, such as powering homes, offices and industries.

Environmental Impact Statement

A statement of environmental effects of a proposed action and alternatives to it.

Environmental Management

Management of human activity that has the potential to impact on the environment.

Ephemeral Streams

Streams that flow only as the direct result of rain - they have no permanent flow.


Wearing away of land surface by wind or water, intensified by land-clearing practices related to farming, residential or industrial development, road building, or logging.


The total animal population that inhabits an area.

Fire Regime

The characteristics of fire in a given ecosystem, such as the frequency, predictability, intensity, and seasonality of fire.


The total vegetation assemblage that inhabits an area.

Fossil Fuel

Fuel derived from ancient organic remains e.g. peat, coal, crude oil, and natural gas.


The splitting or isolating of patches of similar habitat, typically forest cover, but including other types of habitat.

Fuel Efficiency

The proportion of energy released by fuel combustion that is converted into useful energy.

Geographic Information Systems

Essentially a computer program used to view, produce and examine maps.  GIS is a way that you can look at real world information including roads, topography, vegetation and soil types on a computer screen.  Examples you may use which can be produced on a GIS include a street directory and rainfall maps.

Global Warming

An increase in the near surface temperature of the Earth as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and ozone (also see greenhouse effect).

Greenhouse Effect

The process that raises the temperature of air in the lower atmosphere due to heat trapped by greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and ozone (also see Global Warming).


Domestic wastewater composed of wash water from kitchen, bathroom, and laundry sinks, tubs and washing machines, but excluding human sewage.

Ground Water

The supply of water under the earth's surface in an aquifer or in the soil.

Heavy Metals

Metallic elements with high atomic weights; (e.g. mercury, chromium, cadmium, arsenic, and lead); which can damage living things at low concentrations and tend to accumulate in the food chain.

Household Hazardous Waste

Hazardous products used and disposed of by residential as opposed to industrial consumers. Includes paints, stains, varnishes, solvents, pesticides, and other materials or products containing volatile chemicals that can catch fire, react or explode, or that are corrosive or toxic.


The penetration of water through the ground surface into sub-surface soil.

Integrated Pest Management

A mixture of chemical and other, non-pesticide, methods to control pests, including consideration of pest-host relationships.

Land Degradation

A decline in the quality of soil, vegetation, water and other natural resources as a result of road maintenance activities or any other human activity on the land.

Land Use

The way in which land is used, especially in farming and city planning.


Locally-based community group which undertake conservation and land management activities on private and public lands, including tree planting and weed removal and management.


A large land area composed of interacting ecosystems that are repeated due to factors such as geology, soils, climate, and human impacts.

Material Safety Data Sheet

A document prepared by the manufacturer with all the available information on the product, including ingredients, any health and safety dangers, first aid instructions and emergency procedures, safety precautions and safe use, handling and storage.

Native Vegetation

Vegetation that is natural to the area (indigenous) and has not been introduced.

Natural Resource

A feature of the natural environment that is of value in serving the needs of humans or the environment.

Noise Pollution

Excessively loud, harmful or annoying noise.

Non-renewable Resource

A resource whose total quantity does not increase measurably over time, so that each use of the resource diminishes its supply.

Noxious Weed

Those introduced plants which spread widely and have a detrimental effect on the environment, economy or human health and declared under the Noxious Weeds Act.


Any substance assimilated by living things that promotes growth.  The term is generally applied to nitrogen and phosphorus in wastewater, but is also applied to other essential and trace elements.

Nutrient Pollution

Contamination of land and water resources by excessive inputs of nutrients, primarily phosphorous, nitrogen and organic carbon (organic matter).


Grazing livestock to the point of damage to the land.


An insect, rodent, nematode, fungus, weed or other form of terrestrial or aquatic plant or animal life that is injurious to health of the environment.


Any substance introduced into the environment that adversely affects the usefulness of a resource or the health of humans, animals, or ecosystems.

Precautionary Principle

Planning principle for sustainability which states that where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental degradation


An animal that lives by preying on other animals.

Property Planning

The process of organizing the use of lands and their resources to best meet people's needs over time, according to the land's capabilities.

Provenance Plants

Local varieties of native species.


System of collecting, sorting, and reprocessing old material into usable raw materials.


Act of purchasing or consuming less to begin with, so as not to have to reuse or recycle later.


The regrowth of native vegetation without the introduction of revegetation works such as tree planting.

Remnant Vegetation

Areas of original (never been cleared) and regenerated native vegetation, includes areas of native forest, bush, scrub or grasslands that remain adjacent to the property.

Renewable Energy

Energy resources such as wind power or solar energy that can keep producing indefinitely without being depleted.


Actions taken to modify an ecosystem to achieve a desired, healthy, and functioning condition.


Cleaning and/or refurbishing an old product to be used again.


The re-establishment and development of a plant cover by either natural or artificial means, such as re-seeding.

Riparian Area

The area along a watercourse or around a lake or pond.

Riparian Ecosystem

Ecosystems around or next to water areas that support unique vegetation and animal communities as a result of the influence of water.

Rural Residential

Land situated in the urban fringe of the rural environment, which is generally a minimum of half a hectare (1 to 2 acres).  It may be used for small-scale rural or hobby farm enterprises.


A high concentration of salt in soil or water, which have detriment effects on the natural environment, such as water quality and plant growth, and on the human environment, including infrastructure.


Topsoil, sand, and minerals eroded by wind, rain or flowing water.


Settling of sediment in water bodies due to gravity.

Septic System

An on-site system designed to treat and dispose of domestic sewage which is not connected to the reticulated sewage system, including a septic tank.


Human and animal effluent waste and wastewater produced by residential and commercial sources and discharged into sewers.

Soil Compaction

The reduction of soil volume, generally resulting in reduced ability to absorb water.

Soil Erodibility

An indicator of a soil's susceptibility to raindrop impact, runoff, and other erosive processes.

Soil Moisture

The water contained in the pore space of the unsaturated zone.

Sustainability (ecological)

The ability of an ecosystem to maintain ecological processes and functions, biological diversity, and productivity over time.

Threatened Species

A flora or fauna species which has been classified under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act or the Federal Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, as under threat of extinction.


Haziness in water caused by the presence of particles and pollutants, such as suspended silt or organic matter.

Urban Runoff

Stormwater from city streets and adjacent domestic or commercial properties that carries pollutants of various kinds into the sewer systems and receiving waters.

Vegetation Community

An assemblage of particular populations of different plant species within a specified location in space and time.


Unwanted materials left over from a manufacturing process and refuse from places of human or animal habitation.

Waste Reduction

Using source reduction, recycling, or composting to prevent or reduce waste generation.

Water Quality

The level of purity of water; the safety or purity of drinking water.

Water Table

The level of groundwater.


A plant that is growing out of place or where it is not wanted, including noxious weeds, environmental weeds, and Weeds of National Significance.


An area that is permanently or intermittently saturated by surface or ground water with vegetation adapted for life under those soil conditions (eg. swamps, bogs, marshes, and estuaries).


Any bushland fire that is not a prescribed fire.

Wildlife Corridor

An area; land, water, or both, used by wildlife to travel or migrate from one larger habitat area to another.


Animals living in the environment without human intervention.


Copyright 2011 HCCREMS